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It takes one to know one
The moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they're a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And they both agree their one night together is all about fun, not forever.
Now, years later, Seth remains a favorite memory. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because he's still sinfully attractive, and she likes the man he is. When he suddenly becomes a full-time dad to his newborn...
It takes one to know one
The moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they're a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And they both agree their one night together is all about fun, not forever.
Now, years later, Seth remains a favorite memory. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because he's still sinfully attractive, and she likes the man he is. When he suddenly becomes a full-time dad to his newborn daughter, Vivian falls hard. Yet despite the responsibilities, he's not a good bet for commitment. And she needs to guard her heart before she gets into trouble!
"Well. What do you think? Do I still look like an overstuffed silk sausage?"
Vivian Walker winced as her sister spun to face her, the taffeta of her wedding dress rustling. She would never live down the scathing commentary she'd given the day she'd gone dress shopping with her sister. Next time someone asked for her opinion, she needed to engage her edit function first.
"It looks gorgeous," she said, because it was true and because the big day was tomorrow and there was no way she was critiquing the gown her sister had chosen.
Jodie smoothed a hand over her hip. She'd been dieting like crazy and the classic fit-and-flare dress clung to her curvy figure perfectly, with not a hint of overstuffing. The lace overlay was delicate, the strapless sweetheart neckline flattering, the dove-grey silk belt the perfect accent for her slender waist. She really did look beautiful.
"You don't think I should have gone with something more modern?" Jodie asked, flicking her long, dark red hair over her shoulders.
"We can dash down to the mall now, see what the rental place has," Vivian suggested, poker-faced.
"Ha, ha, smarty-pants. That was your cue to tell me that this is the perfect dress, that there isn't a more perfect dress anywhere in the world, and that I look like a regal, sex-goddess-princess in it, et cetera, et cetera."
The guilt that had been hovering since her sister unzipped the dress's garment bag bit hard. Vivian scratched her nose to hide her reaction from her sister.
Was there anything worse in all the world than letting down someone you loved? She'd yet to find it, if there was.
"You look amazing, Jodie. Really, really stunning," she said, meeting her sister's eyes.
It wasn't a lie, not by a long shot, but they both knew that if things had gone according to plan, Jodie would be wearing a dress Vivian had designed. A one-of-a-kind creation that-in theory- would have been the culmination of all the hard work Vivian had put in over the past three years studying clothing design at the Melbourne Fashion Institute.
If only she hadn't made that stupid, impulsive offer when they'd gone shopping six months ago.
If only she'd paused for a second to consider what she'd be taking on before she asked her sister to let her design something. But she'd been so disgusted by the safe, homogenized, boring dresses, and so full of herself after winning praise at a recent exhibition of student work at the institute, the offer-bold, brash, confident-had simply popped out of her mouth.
Jodie's eyes had lit up on the spot, and she'd done a happy dance around the changing room. "Viv, that would be so fantastic. And I know that whatever you come up with will be my dream dress, because you are so amazingly talented."
Panic had set in about thirty seconds later. This was her sister's wedding day. Whatever Vivian came up with needed to be off-the-planet extraordinary. It needed to be the best, most creative, most sublime thing she'd ever designed.
Was it any wonder she'd choked every time she sat down with her sketch pad to try to rough out ideas in the following weeks and months? Was it any wonder she'd made no less than twenty starts on twenty wildly different designs before throwing each and every one of them out? And was it any wonder her sister had finally let her off the hook after three months of unreturned phone calls and excuses, assuring Vivian that she was more than happy to buy a dress off the rack if designing one was proving too difficult?
That Jodie had wound up selecting one of the dresses Vivian had so vehemently critiqued and rejected on their shopping expedition was the icing on the cake of her guilt and discomfort. "What do you think of the veil? I'm still on the fence about whether to wear it over my face, or to do something with it in my hair, or maybe not wear it at all." Jodie picked up a lace-edged confection of white froth. "I tried all three options when we did the practice run on my hair and makeup, but I still can't decide."
Vivian pushed her feelings aside and stood. "Let's have a bit of a play, see what we can come up with."
She fiddled with the veil, trying different ways of pinning and draping it before slipping out to her car to retrieve her workbox. Big, black and heavy, it was actually a portable tool chest that she'd modified for her own purposes, the compartments filled with all manner of trims, haberdashery and sewing supplies she'd collected over the years. She rummaged through the sections until she found what she was looking for-delicate grey feathers that had been dusted with silver and some paste diamond jewelry she'd picked up at a yard sale. She tried a few different options before hitting on the right combination of antique brooch and feathers, pinning the veil so that it fell in delicate, sensuous folds down her sister's back.
"Oh, wow." Jodie inspected herself in the mirror. "Viv, I love it. Thank you," she said, flinging her arms around Vivian.
Vivian hugged her sister, even though she knew she didn't deserve her gratitude. "If you like, I could come up with something similar for your belt, embellish it a little. I could do it tonight, have it ready for you tomorrow morning."
Jodie's smile faltered and Vivian knew she was thinking about the dress-that-never-was, along with all the other things Vivian had screwed up over the years.
"We've got the dinner tonight. I don't want you to feel pushed for time," her sister said diplomatically.
"I won't be. It'll take me an hour, two tops. I really want to do this, Jodie." She left the rest of her plea unspoken. They both knew that a few embellishments on a belt and veil didn't come even close to compensating for how badly Vivian had let Jodie down, but it was something.
"Okay. Sure. Why not?" Jodie said, and it killed Vivian that she could hear her sister talking herself into trusting her again.
"I'll draw up some sketches before dinner and run them past you."
"You don't need to do that. You have wonderful taste. Whatever you do, I'm sure I'll love it."
The bedroom door opened then and their mother and the other two bridesmaids barged in, laden with champagne and glasses, all of them talking at once.
"God, Jodie, you look gorgeous! Like a fairytale princess," one of them said.
Vivian smiled to herself as she cleared her things out of the way. The princess reference was sure to meet with her sister's approval.
She stayed for one toast, but the belt was playing on her mind-she refused to let her sister down again-so she made her excuses and retreated to her childhood bedroom to sketch some ideas.
Their mother had converted Jodie's room into a study the moment she moved out, but she'd kept Vivian's as it was when she'd struck out on her own a year later, "just in case" Vivian needed it. The message being that while sensible, down-to-earth Jodie couldn't possibly fail to succeed in the adult world of rent and utility bills, flighty, unreliable Vivian was a much shakier proposition
The galling thing was her mother had been right. Vivian had had to move home twice-once when she'd lost her job working in retail fashion, the second when she'd had a falling-out with her housemates. Worse, things were looking shaky at the apartment she shared with two other students at the moment, too.
Vivian sighed. It would totally suck to crawl home a third time.
Sitting on her bed, she arranged the remaining feathers off to one side, placing a selection of antique brooches next to them. She had another rummage through her workbox and unearthed a packet of pewter-grey and white sequins, along with some seed pearls.
Taking up her pad and pencil, she started to sketch. She had roughed out a design and arranged the component pieces on the belt when someone rapped on her door. She looked up, only registering how long it had been since she moved when her neck objected.
Her mother entered, dressed in a bronze silk pants suit, her faded red hair sprayed into a stiff helmet, gold jewelry gleaming at her ears, throat and wrists.
"Vivian. I've been looking for you everywhere. We leave for the restaurant in twenty minutes." Her expression became exasperated when she saw that Vivian was still in her jeans. "You're not wearing that, are you? This is the first time we'll be meeting some of Jason's extended family."
Vivian resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Her idea of fashion and her mother's had diverged a long time ago, but even she knew jeans were not acceptable for the private dining room of a swanky restaurant.
"I'll be ready," she said. "And I brought a dress."
Her mother's gaze dropped to the bed. "That's not Jodie's belt, is it? Does she know you have it?" Her mother started forward, clearly determined to rescue it from Vivian's clutches.
Vivian rested a protective hand over the arrangement she'd spent hours perfecting.
"Jodie gave it to me. I'm finessing it."
Her mother pursed her mouth. "I hope this isn't going to be like the dress. The wedding is tomorrow."
"Thanks, Mum, I'm well aware of that."
"There's no need to take that tone. I'm thinking of your sister. This isn't the time for you to go off on one of your whims."
"I'll finish tonight." Vivian ground out the words.
It was one thing to admit to yourself you were a screwup, but it was another thing entirely to have it pointed out by your nearest and dearest. Repeatedly. Ad nauseam.
"I'll leave you to change, then." Her mother gave the belt one last mistrustful glance before leaving.
Viv growled, then carefully unfolded her legs so as not to disturb the sequins and pearls. She didn't have time for a shower, so she concentrated on fixing her makeup before shedding her clothes and pulling on her dress. One of her own designs, it was made from an inky-blue wool crepe and had a loose blouson top with a peekaboo central split and a fitted pencil skirt. She'd been growing her strawberry-blond hair out of a short crop for the wedding, and she pinned it up before spritzing on perfume and racing downstairs.
"Only five minutes late." Her father made a show of checking his watch. "Got to be a new record."
Vivian wrinkled her nose at him. "But worth every second," she said, twirling for him.
He whistled appreciatively.
Her mother made a clucking noise. "You're a born flirt, Vivian. Try not to give anyone a heart attack tonight, okay?" She tried to close the peekaboo slit that revealed a hint of Vivian's décolletage.
"Relax, Mum. I know CPR."
Jodie laughed. "Not much to say to that, is there?"
They trooped out to the car, her and Jodie piling into the backseat.
"So is what's-his-name going to be there tonight?" Vivian asked as the car pulled into the street.
"I may need a little more detail than that," Jodie said dryly.
"Jason's brother. What's-his-name." The mysterious best man who hadn't made it to either the engagement party or the wedding rehearsal because he'd been "touring with his band."
"Seth. You might want to make a note of his name, since he's going to be your brother-in-law. Sort of. Family by association anyway."
"Goodie. I always wanted a brother." Mostly when one of her boyfriends had turned out to be a jerk-wad.
"Yeah Seth isn't really brother material."
Vivian gave Jodie a look. "What does that mean?"
"I think I'll let you work it out for yourself."
It was tempting to badger her, but Jodie was clearly bent on being mysterious so Vivian let the subject drop and asked about the itinerary for the honeymoon.
Their father was cursing under his breath by the time they entered the restaurant, ticked off after having to park on a side street because the restaurant's lot was full. Their mother murmured soothing words to him as they made their way to the private dining room.
Approximately half the guests had already arrived and her parents began to circulate, apologizing for being late, while Jodie made a beeline for a smiling Jason. Vivian lingered in the doorway to appreciate the lavish decor-over-the-top red velvet curtains with gold tassels, a long dining table surrounded by button-backed chairs in black velvet, lots of glittering candles and bevel-cut mirrors. Fancy.
Not really her cup of tea, but she could appreciate that a wedding called for a bit of pomp, and her parents would have the opportunity to do this only once, since it would be a cold day in hell when she agreed to marry someone. She might be barely twenty-three, but she knew that much about the life she wanted to carve out for herself. There would be no cozy domestic arrangements in the suburbs in her future. No matching rings and big white dress and public vows. There would definitely be no babies.
She was going to be a clothing designer. She was going to launch her own line and build it into a force to be reckoned with. One day, she would send a collection down the runway at Paris fashion week, and women would covet clothes bearing her brand.
The thought was still lingering in her mind when the huddle of people gathered at the far end of the table opened up and she caught sight of the tall, dark-haired man in their midst.
His hair was raven-black, brushed back from his widow's peak in a careless, windswept style reminiscent of an old-school, bad-boy movie star. Unlike everyone else, he'd eschewed a suit and tie and instead wore an open-necked black shirt and leather jacket with a pair of tuxedo pants and scuffed biker boots. She wanted to smirk at how try-hard the ensemble was-he might as well have the words wannabe rock star tattooed across his forehead-but was forced to admit that he more than carried off the look.
He was, in a word, sexy. And boy, did he know it. The knowledge was reflected in the way he held himself, the way he studied the people around him and in the small, knowing curve to his lips. He thought he was too cool for school and the best thing since sliced bread all rolled into one, with a helping of God's gift to women thrown in for good measure.
So, this was Jason's mysterious, never-around brother, Seth Anderson.
A waiter glided by bearing a tray of champagne flutes and she plucked one for herself before he could disappear. Sipping at the bubbles, she went to greet her aunt and uncle, watching Seth out of the corner of her eye every step of the way.
He was easily the hottest guy in the room. She guessed he was about her age, maybe slightly older. She tried to remember what else Jodie had told her about him, but apart from the fact that he was lead singer in a band called Skunk Punk, Vivian came up blank. Since she'd never heard of his band- and who could forget that name?-she figured that his music career wasn't much to write home about, despite all the time he apparently spent touring.
But, hey, what did she know? Maybe he was about to break out and be heralded as the next Michael Hutchence.
He glanced up, scanning the room until he arrived at her. For a breathless moment their gazes locked, and a ripple of something forbidden and hot and reckless licked through her. His eyes were espresso-brown, and the glint in them was downright wicked.
He cocked an eyebrow, his mouth quirking into a speculative, assessing smile as his gaze traveled down her body and up again. Not to be outdone, she raised an eyebrow at him and gave him the same treatment, deliberately lingering on his crotch, just so he knew who he was dealing with.
He raised his glass in her direction, an unspoken acknowledgement that she'd trumped him. Or so she chose to think.
She turned her shoulder on him as she joined her aunt and uncle, exchanging kisses and greetings, doing her damnedest to appear as though she had better things to do than engage in eye-foreplay with him. Even though she was burningly aware of him.
Definitely interesting. Maybe this wedding wasn't going to be all pomp and circumstance, after all.
Posted April 11, 2014
Ever since my first Sarah Mayberry book, I've been hooked. Mayberry has a true talent for writing smart, funny romances with real characters and chemistry that sizzles yet has very tender moments, too. I've yet to read a novel from her that I didn't thoroughly enjoy; Her Kind of Trouble continues that pattern.
I think the Dear Reader note from Mayberry in the front of this novel goes a long way towards explaining why this book works so well. The hero and heroine meet and have explosive, amazing sex in the first chapter, but the timing just was not right. Even if they decided to try for a relationship in the mid-twenties, I don't believe it would have lasted. They both needed to grow up, to find themselves, as cliché as that sounds. When the story opens in the present day, Vivian and Seth are two very different people from that first encounter ten years ago. And that's a good thing.
Typically I'm not a fan of babies in romance novels, but Daisy, Seth's newborn daughter, fit into the story very well. And each scene with Seth lovingly taking care of Daisy was enough to make me swoon. A sexy man plus a baby will always grab a woman's attention. But when said man truly cares for the baby . . . It's almost more powerful than foreplay, right? :)
I love the easy banter that Mayberry always includes in her books. I'm constantly smiling, snorting, or chuckling while reading.
I loved how Vivian wanted to help Seth so badly, but yet realized that while she could give him a shoulder to lean on, he had to come to terms with many of the issues on his own.
Vivian is a strong heroine. I particularly loved when she stormed over to tell him off for judging her. That was a great scene, and I would love to share it, but you will simply have to read it yourself!
The buildup is done very well, and when these two do fall back into bed together, it's very hot! The chemistry is always there, but they also build a great friendship. I believed in their relationship by the end of the book. And isn't that the point of a good romance?
Her Kind of Trouble covers all the elements of a good romance—from the banter to the chemistry, the tender moments, the extremely sexy scenes, and a story of how two people change and grow over the years before seizing their second chance at love. I will be buying a copy of this book for my shelf, and I cannot wait for Mayberry's next release!
~ * ~ * ~
For my full review, including favorite book quotes, please visit my blog, TBQ's Book Palace.
Posted April 7, 2014
Another 5 star for author Sarah Mayberry who knows how to tell a story of love, passion and forgiveness. From the beginning the author grabs your attention and never lets you go. One look is all it took for Vivian and Seth at a family wedding to come together for one night of fun as they steam up the windows in the back seat of a limo. They both agreed that is all it could be both had lives to live and neither were looking for more. They live for the moment both moving on either forgetting that wonderful night both knowing this isn’t their time and most likely will never be.
Ten years later with many moves and dreams have been filled they come back home to start building separate lives only to find neither can forget that one night they had with the best sex either of them have had. Life gets in the way Seth finds himself about to be a parent with a girl who is his friend with benefits. She is driving him nuts with her flighty ways when a car backs in to her and both mother and child lives are on the line. The one person who stood by him and he can’t get out of his head is Vivian the chemistry and attraction is still there after all these years she helps him through the trying time of losing his babies mother. Is he ready for more or does he want another friends with benefits?
Vivian has moved back home to find her place in life she knows she will never be a dress designer but she sure has the knack for putting things together. She moves home to be close to her family and finds the chemistry and attraction is still there with Seth. One would have thought ten years would have been enough to cool things off. She would like nothing better than to put Seth in his place but she can’t turn her back when he needs the support of his loving family now more than ever. She finds she wants so much more but with Seth being a playboy she will take what she can get.
Will these two realize that life is handing them a second chance now that they have lived their wild ways or will they just move on to live a life of wanting what they can’t have? Can timing and chemistry be everything or is it just wishful thinking?
The author leaves you on the edge of your seats hanging on to each work wondering what she has in store for you next. This is a book you do not want to put down and you wish you could read on to find out how life treats them. Ms. Mayberry knows how to write a love scene so that is it not trash but full of passion that makes you want the same for yourself. She reminds us it isn’t only timing and chemistry that makes a good romance but reminds us that if there is no tomorrows have you done all you can do to make the person you love happy. What if tomorrow never comes and you lose that one chance to find happiness can you live with that? This book is full of love, passion but it is also reminds us of lessons in life that we should never forget.
Posted April 4, 2014
Timing and chemistry are everything, having a free spirit is a bonus, but for Seth and Vivian, the only missing piece was the maturity to handle the emotional strings that tugged at them both as they stole away from a family wedding to steam up the windows of a rented limo. Seth is a budding rock star, but is it a pipe dream? Viv is a fashion designer, working her way up the ladder, her ideas are remarkable, but she freezes when she must put her creations to cloth. Now relatives by marriage, they rarely see each other, rarely speak, and time marches on, they adjust their life goals and settle in to comfortable lives not too far from each other. Have they now tasted enough of life to admit what they want or will the latest shock come between them? Seth has a baby with a friend with benefits, who becomes gravely ill and he is now a single dad. Can a man who was never mature enough to take care of himself become a good father? Can a woman who never saw herself as anything but an awesome aunt who showered her family with gifts and fun find she does have the room in her heart for some other woman’s child? Will they drop their pretenses and let love in, enjoying life in a deeper manner?
Her Kind of Trouble is a warm romance with a little spice and growing up added in! Sarah Mayberry has told a tale of romance, love with a pinch of humor and pain. She has created a world where two people have been satisfied with shallow relationships, yet their inner souls are remembering one night years before, that night with no strings attached, when their worlds were full of dreams and promise as they reached for the stars that may have been out of their reach. Ms. Mayberry writes with a smooth touch that captures each moment like a snapshot of a flower unfolding into full bloom, while keeping things light enough to make one smile after having to reach for the tissues.
Posted April 1, 2014
Good timing has most definitely not been a friend to either Vivian or Seth. Their physical chemistry was in evidence at the start of the book (hey, they get freaky in a limo in chapter 1), but neither is ready emotionally for anything else. When we reconnect with them, as they do with each other, it’s plain to see both are very different people to those they used to be.
The attraction between them is still there, unexplored and likely to stay that way until tragedy strikes and Seth is left in the sole care of his infant daughter. It’s from here that these two really begin to show the other who they are beneath their facades.
I loved that Seth stood up to his responsibilities, especially when they were so different to how he’d expected them to be. I loved that he wasn’t suddenly an “I know everything, therefore I am Super-Dad” kind of guy – even for the practiced, parenting is bloody hard sometimes – and he isn’t shy about saying he’s got no idea, and readily admits he has stuffed up in the past. His love for his child is very real, and that is pretty darn sexy.
Vivian is there when Seth gets that awful call. She could have just thrown her hands up in the air and left Seth to flounder, because of their sketchy history, but she didn’t. It was wonderful to see that Vivian was there as an anchor for Seth, rather than someone who is there to take over his role as father.
As always, it was an absolute joy watching these two grow towards each other. The situation they find themselves knee-deep in shows them both how they’ve changed. While Her Kind of Trouble is a touch more sombre than some of Sarah’s previous books, it is by no means filled to the brim with grief and sadness. In other hands, this could have easily become one of those books, but Sarah Mayberry has once again imbued the story and her characters with the right balance of humour, emotion, and reality. The dialogue is smart, the characters’ actions and reactions to goings-on right on target.
The romance between Vivian and Seth was gorgeous. Their chemistry was undeniable, and it was plain to see that despite their checkered pasts (both separate and together), they were made for a happy ending.
One other thing I really loved was that even though Seth’s relationship with his child’s mother wasn’t perfect and she may not have been a textbook expectant mother, she wasn’t demonised or unnecessarily put down to advance the cause of Seth and Vivian’s romance.
Her Kind of Trouble is another winner, as far as I am concerned. I’m just glad now that I have had a chance to tell you all how good it was.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book by Harlequin via NetGalley in return for an honest review.